Washington [US], March 11 (ANI): A group of global lawmakers have called on governments to hold China to account for abuses against minority women in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), amid reports of systematic sexual abuse in detention and violations of reproductive rights.
According to Radio Free Asia, lawmakers from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) issued a statement Monday recognizing the plight of women in the region, where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of internment camps since early 2017.
"Today these women are experiencing a brutal, state-sponsored persecution," the lawmakers said in a video posted to Twitter, as quoted by Radio Free Asia.
"There is mounting evidence that hundreds of thousands of minority women in Xinjiang have been subjected to forced sterilizations and forced abortions ... Those who refuse face imprisonment in Xinjiang's vast prison camp network," they added.
In addition to restrictive "family planning" policies in the region, former detainees have given testimony that women in the camps have endured sexual abuse and torture, including situations in which men pay guards to rape women held there.
Radio Free Asia reported that Experts say that taken together, such abuses could amount to genocide and crimes against humanity, as a group of judges in the UK said in a legal opinion last month. The administration of US President Joe Biden has labeled China's policies in the region as such, while parliaments in Canada and the Netherlands recently adopted non-binding resolutions carrying similar designations.
"The perpetrators of these abuses cannot continue with impunity," Monday's statement said.
"We as parliamentarians from across the globe call on our governments to take urgent action to hold the Chinese government to account ... We must pursue all domestic and international avenues for legal investigations into the alleged crimes against humanity and genocide taking place in the region."
Rahima Mahmut, IPAC advisor on Uyghurs, called this year's International Women's Day "a day of mourning for Uyghur women."
"The mass sterilization of Uyghur women, forced abortion of Uyghur children, and gang rape of Uyghur women ... prove beyond reasonable doubt that Uyghur women are facing the most brutal campaign of persecution from the Chinese government," she said.
"That's why we launched the campaign today to raise global awareness of China's crimes against humanity committed against the Uyghur women and to urge governments to take action."
Beijing had initially denied the very existence of the camps, but now claims that they are educational and vocational centres and that everyone has "graduated."
Uyghurs make up most of the one million people who the UN estimates have been held in camps in Xinjiang as part of what the central government calls a campaign against terrorism.
Also, Beijing has rejected calls for an independent UN investigation into Xinjiang's internment program. Journalists and diplomats are not allowed access to the camps outside of tightly controlled government tours.
US President Joe Biden's administration has called China's treatment of Uyghurs genocide, a position recently adopted by Canada and the Netherlands.
China faces sanctions such as a ban on US purchases of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang and calls from some Western lawmakers to boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (ANI)